The Vietnam Veterans' Color Guard returned to Drag's Court at WNMU last night to present the flag during the playing of the National Anthem prior to both the men's and women's basketball games.
Controversy had surrounded WNMU's playing of the National Anthem after recent comments made at a Silver City Town Council meeting. Those comments made by Jose Ray Jr., member of the color guard, and Councilor Lupe Cano, left the impression that the Mustang men's basketball team had disrespected America and the color guard by leaving the floor just prior to the playing of the National Anthem.
After a meeting between Ray Jr. and Matt Enriquez, head men's basketball coach at WNMU, Ray Jr. told Coach Enriquez and AD Scott Noble that he now understood the situation and the color guard would like to return to WNMU.
The Lone Star Conference had dictated a change in the timing of when the National Anthem was played for conference basketball games. The conference asked that the anthem be played 9-10 minutes prior to the start of the game rather than immediately before the game began. Teams normally return to the locker rooms for last minute instruction at that time.
The conference wanted to avoid situations with players refusing to stand during the playing of the National Anthem. WNMU complied with the conference mandate. That situation had not occurred at WNMU in games prior to the conference portion of the schedule. In fact, no team members had ever expressed a desire to protest in any way shape or form. According to Coach Enriquez, the topic had been discussed prior to the season and to a man, the team did not want to mix social causes with basketball.
The Lone Star conference also implemented another change; playing the National Anthem only before women's games when a double header was on the schedule. Prior to this change, the National Anthem was played before both men's and women's games.
After becoming aware of the situation, new Athletic Director Scott Noble had instructed game staff to change the policy. The National Anthem is now played immediately prior to team introductions and is played prior to both men's and women's games.